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January 7, 2002

Top performers from the West

Chris Davis

The Rivals100.com Recruiting Network knows how much fans love lists, so with that in mind editors Jeremy Crabtree and Bobby Burton put together a look at the top 10 performances from the West squad at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl this past Saturday at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.

The list doesn't necessarily reflect how Rivals100.com would rank the players, but how they looked based upon their performances against other blue-chippers.

  1. Haloti Ngata – Everybody knew that Ngata was good. He wouldn’t be a five-star prospect if he wasn’t, but oh boy was he impressive to watch in person. Easily the biggest guy there at the game, Ngata also proved that he was big-time off of it. In one series alone, he sacked a quarterback, ran five yards down the field to lay a devastating hit on a running back and then he bolted through the line of scrimmage and tackled another running back for a three-yard loss on third down.

  2. Vince Young – Rivals100.com ranks Young as the No. 1 player in the nation and he did nothing to disappoint. Young was the driving force behind the West’s touchdown drives with his ability to hurt you with the run and the pass. But he was truly special in the open field. For example on one play, Young broke away from a blitzing Buster Davis and Jim Unis and flushed to his left. Then off of his back foot, he heaved a bomb that was right on target to his receiver Tyler Littlehales. The only thing was that Littlehales didn’t help Young and dropped his pass. There were quite a few other drops, but Young showed his ability to kill you so many different ways. And it was EPSN announcer Jim Donnan said to us the day before the game – “he’s a war daddy.”

  3. Lorenzo Booker – Another easy one to point out. Booker was everything he looked to be on both junior and senior film in person. He was silky smooth with the ball in his hands and could both glide through the hole or turn on the jets when he had to. He did have a tendency to always attempt to cut the ball to the outside and use his speed to outrun defenders, and he’ll probably learn to grow out of that in college. But there is no questioning his game-breaking ability. He did have one of the more impressive plays of the game when he scored on a touchdown run of about 25 yards. On that play he took the handoff, bolted toward the line of scrimmage and found a hole off the right side. He then got a few yards up field and was faced with a horde of East defenders. Booker simply put the afterburners on hold and allowed the defenders to close in. And in like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, he then turned the jets back on and allowed the linebackers to fly right past him.

  4. Eric McNeal (UCLA) – Watching McNeal on film doesn’t do him justice. He’s one of the better looking and physical defensive backs that Rivals100.com has seen in person this season, and that says a lot. In the All-America Bowl, McNeal’s only mistake was that he dropped a pass on a fake punt that might have been a sure touchdown. But other than that, he was all over the field making big plays on both pass and run defense. The Bruins got themselves a heck of player with McNeal and he proved why he’s a member of the Rivals100.com team.

  5. Kyle Williams – When Rivals100.com stated that there might not be a better pass blocker in the nation than Williams many fans snickered. Nana, nana boo boo on you. Williams came to play on Saturday and simply proved that he’s one of the top players in the nation regardless of his position with his sterling pass pro technique and his ability to always get lower than the defender. The entire East squad talked about how Jim Unis was going to tear through the West offensive line, but it didn’t happen. Unis was manhandled by Williams and at halftime, the East moved Unis away from Williams because he couldn’t get any push at all.

  6. Kamerion Wimbley (Florida State) – They do play football in Kansas after all, and Wimbley represented the Sunflower State with great pride and great playmaking ability. He still has to grow into his frame, but Wimbley looked like Spiderman out there with his long arms and long legs. He often used those long arms to simply suck up rushers and bring them to the ground. He’s also one of the greatest kids that Rivals100.com has run into this season and should be a great pleasure to watch in Tallahassee.

  7. Kasey Studdard – You have to love a lineman that goes both ways in all-star games, and that’s what Studdard did on Saturday. College coaches have been bragging on him all season long, and it looks like they were right. He has a great frame, great footwork and the ability to make the right play at the right time. He should be a heck of an offensive guard on the next level.

  8. Bob Morton (Notre Dame) – Bobby might not be the highest ranked offensive lineman around, but you’re sure not going to find many more that work harder than he does. Morton – with his trademark cowboy hat – looked great out there on the field and was impressive on running plays. He used his lower-body strength to get great push off the line-of-scrimmage.

  9. Marvin Byrdsong – The one knock that Rivals100.com heard from college coaches was that Byrdsong couldn’t move from sideline to sideline. Boy did he ever blow that connotation away with his play in the all-star game. He was flying around the field making big play after big play. He said that is leaning toward Arkansas and Oklahoma on the sidelines.

  10. The rest of the West offensive line which consists of Justin Blalock (Texas), Cody Douglas (Tennessee), Scott Raridon (Notre Dame), Josiah Vinson and James Bonelli (Notre Dame). While the skill players stole most of the show the West offensive line simply dominated the game up front – paving the way for big play after big play. Blalock looked solid as usual. Douglas looked better than he did late in the season. Heck, Raridon even caught a pass as a tight end.

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